Recap of openSUSE's End of Year survey

The openSUSE community recently held two public sessions to review their 20202 End of Year survey. I attended those meetings and I wanted to share my takeaways with the Council. I think it’s helpful to see where our nearest relative is struggling and succeeding so we can take lessons and help them out. First of all, a lot of the issues they identified sound very familiar. (I also got this sense talking to an openSUSE Ambassador at SCALE last year.) The number one less is that distros are hard and community is hard and we are not alone in finding them hard. :slight_smile:

Here are links to the day 1 slides, day 2 slides, and Etherpad notes. I appreciate the effort that the openSUSE community put into this and the fact that they held the meeting publicly.

Now for some more detail.


Documentation: hard. Right now they have documentation spread across the docs site and the wiki. It’s not obvious which wiki pages are current and which are obsolete. It’s also not obvious which wiki pages are official and which aren’t. Some people have suggested removing obsolete docs, but it’s not clear if people still need them or why. Someone said, and this is a direct quote: “The Arch Wiki is a bad example because it’s an extremely well-maintained wiki”. One person brought up how Fedora moved a lot of docs from the wiki to and was impressed with the work we did there.

Web presence

They also identified a problem of having too many “front doors.” There’s the wiki,, etc. It’s been suggested that they consolidate on This page needs improvement, though. There’s no explanation of what the different options are, which can be confusing and off-putting for newcomers. I do like that you can get to all of the openSUSE variants easily from one place, though. I’d like for us to make progress on that with getfedora.


When it comes to marketing, the consensus was that they don’t emphasize the value proposition of openSUSE enough. In particular, openSUSE Tumbleweed is seen as unstable because it’s a rolling release, but it’s actually very stable. Most people who are at least passingly familiar with Linux know of Ubuntu and Red Hat, but openSUSE doesn’t register to most people.

They made a print magazine in partnership with Linux Magazine and that has been very well-received. But it’s a lot of investment of labor and money. Podcasts have been a good avenue for getting reviews and coverage these days. Someone remarked “whatever effort we put into marketing, it has to be sustained.” I agree. Marketing, more than most other activities, can’t be done in small chunks.

During the second meeting, they started talking about how they can compete against Ubuntu. My notes are pretty thin there, as I think they were missing the forest for the trees. Like Fedora, openSUSE doesn’t necessarily aim to dominate the market and sees cross-distro collaboration as a feature.

The survey itself

This is important to keep in mind for our own survey efforts. The survey wasn’t well-advertised. People heavily involved in the project weren’t aware that the survey was happening until it was over. They discussed a “force push” sort of mechanism, where the survey would be a notification on the desktop. There are technical ways to accomplish this, but I suspect it would be poorly-received by a significant portion of users.


Thanks for this @bcotton. Super insightful!

Once upon a time, some years ago, I remember discussion about putting a user feedback option into the Anaconda installer. But whether it was technical implementation, figuring out what to ask, or that a new, first-time user may not have a lot of feedback yet were sticky points. I can’t remember where that discussion trailed off.

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I don’t think Anaconda is the right place for this.

The ideal time to prompt users for feedback is after they’ve had some time to use it. I had something like this as part of my “give badges for using Fedora” idea back in the day.


There are also video recordings published for day 1 and day 2.

The main point that some were trying to make here was that some of the strategies they employed are worth examining and implementing, because they did specific work to drive mindshare up for Ubuntu, and they should see whether openSUSE can do some of the same.